Direct cinema pioneer Frederick Wiseman takes an in-depth look at the preeminent American university during a fall semester that saw a vigorous debate taking place over tuition hikes, budget cuts, and the future of higher education in the United States.
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There are limitations to the POV Wiseman adopts here (I found myself longing for more student time, less admin time), but that POV is put across with a beautiful complexity, intelligence, and sensitivity.
Using montage to show us a familiar place under a new organizing logic, Wiseman also shows us how individuals become collectives. In his films, single images become greater than the sum of their parts in much the same way people do: with great effort and tremendous resolve. http://filmcapsule.com/2013/12/03/at-berkeley-2013/
Heads up, film friends: At Berkeley, the latest masterful chronicle of this American life from Frederick Wiseman and the best documentary so far this decade, is airing on PBS tonight at 9pm. Set your DVRs, stay in on a Monday, it earns every minute of its 4 hour runtime and you owe it to yourself to see it.
as in the best of wiseman's work, this view of berkeley the campus sits on the imperceptible line between clear eye-reporting and existential nightmare. ..most unforgettable moments - an empty library, strewn with the remnants of a stillborn protest; a classroom discusses thoreau's view of a pond as hidden place of murder, we cut to a janitor sweeping dust from a stairwell, the dust collects in great pools below...
The 4 hour running time of Frederick Wiseman's sprawling documentary about life at UC Berkeley may be daunting, but it's also a fascinating and essential portrait of the current state of higher education. An illuminating cross section of beleaguered administrators, idealistic students, and a thirst for learning. It's a behemoth, to be sure, but Wiseman's sure hand delivers something quietly stunning.
Exhausting, intelligent, powerful. One of the most important films made so far this century, capturing the zeitgeist of the Millennial generation better than anything produced by Hollywood this year. I'm so happy this got aired on PBS.